City innovates with a Splash!

Mayor Linda Gorton, several sponsors and members of council this morning inaugurated Splash!, a water games project that will soon be a sensation in Charles Young Park in the East End district.

“A new playground, redesigned basketball courts, and now Splash! will make Charles Young Park a real East End attraction,” said Gorton. Splash! is largely funded by private donors. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.5 million, including $1.3 million from private funds.

Town Branch Commons Trail, which is in the final stages of completion, passes right by Charles Young, making it easy for families to walk or bike to the park. The trail connects several downtown public spaces.

In 1930, when the city purchased four acres downtown for Charles Young Park, it was the second plot of land purchased to serve the recreational needs of the African-American community in what was then a segregated city. . Like his namesake, current Brigadier General Charles Young, the first African-American to reach the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army, Park has overcome his humble beginnings. Brigadier General Young recently received an honorary posthumous promotion.

Splash! will be a large interactive water feature telling the story of Brigadier General Young, born in Mays Lick, Kentucky. The water feature will also educate visitors about the rich cultural history of the East End and the park.

Splash! will also take inspiration from the Bluegrass landscape, mimicking the karst, creeks and streams found in rural areas. Using recirculating water, the water play area will feature water bubbling up from rocks, flowing through water arches and a constant shallow stream surrounded by stepping stones and artificial turf mounds for play or s ‘Sit.

Plans call for the addition of trees to refresh the area, as well as native plantings. And the project includes the renovation of the existing toilet building.

Charles Young Park playground and the Splash! project are rooted in community engagement, analysis and feedback.
“With many contributions from neighbors, including neighborhood kids, Splash! was designed to appeal to children of different ages and abilities,” Gorton said.

Council member James Brown said: “Splash! will be cherished and appreciated by East End families because they helped design it. Like Charles Young Park’s new playground, every aspect of this water feature was imagined and developed by neighborhood residents through community engagement and partnership.
Several partners made Splash! possible, Gorton said, including the Blue Grass Community Foundation.

Lisa Adkins, President and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, said, “A first for Splash! at Charles Young Park is a dream that has been in the works for more than a decade. Splash! is strongly aligned with the Community Foundation’s focus on equitable green space development and continues our long-standing commitment to investing in Lexington’s Downtown and East End neighborhoods. But we didn’t do it alone. BGCF’s Knight Foundation Donor Advised Charitable Fund has issued a $600,000 challenge – and the Community Foundation, along with a number of charity partners, has answered the call. The Bluegrass Community Foundation donated a total of $1.05 million to the project.

Splash! also received a $250,000 grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Building Better Communities Grant, administered by the National Recreation and Park Association.

“Kentucky American Water and our parent company, American Water, are so proud to have been a strong supporter of Lexington Parks for decades because we know that, just like quality water service, parks play a important to a community’s quality of life,” said Nick Rowe, president of Kentucky American Water. “This park will provide safe water play for all ages and abilities, in such a deserving part of town. It is special that it is located near a pathway celebrating our original first water source. city, and that it celebrates the life and work of an African-American leader who, despite the racial challenges of his time, accomplished so much and contributed so much to our country, and still serves as a role model and inspiration to us today. ‘inspiration.

Thoughtful design of the park, signage, public art and other elements will incorporate the legacy of the park’s history and its namesake. The Charles Young Center and adjacent park are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Charles Young Center Advisory Board is committed, along with the city and various funding partners, to creating a community and family-friendly recreational atmosphere in the center and neighborhood park,” said Charles Field, a Charles Young Center representative. . Advisory Board.

Construction is expected to continue through 2022 and be completed in spring 2023.

This project is made possible through the leadership of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, with support from the following charitable donors and BGCF fund holders: Blue Grass Community Foundation, Community Ventures, Elhapa Foundation, JM Smucker Co., James Monroe Homes, James and Martha Monroe BGCF Charitable Fund and BGCF Knight Foundation Donor Advised Charitable Fund. Splash! also received a grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Building Better Communities Grant, administered by the National Recreation and Park Association.


About the Blue Grass Community Foundation:

The Blue Grass Community Foundation creates more giving, vibrant, engaged, and equitable communities by increasing strategic charitable giving throughout Kentucky’s Bluegrass and Appalachia. To learn more about the Community Foundation, visit or contact President and CEO Lisa Adkins at (859) 225-3343.

About the American Water Charitable Foundation Established in 2010 with a founding contribution from American Water, the American Water Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides a formal way to demonstrate the the company’s ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, citizen and contributor to the communities where American Water and its employees live, work and operate. The Foundation helps support nonprofit efforts identified by American Water employees. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant, and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, the NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of parks and recreation professionals and advocates – catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate preparedness , health and well-being in general. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

James C. Tibbs